Can You Use Acrylic Paint On Leather?

You can use acrylic leather paint on leather. This paint becomes permanent if you prepare the leather beforehand and seal the colors upon drying. The basic acrylics, on the contrary, are not formulated for this surface and come off quickly. 

Acrylic painting is an excellent idea for customizing leather items. You can convert the whole look of your old, damaged leather with just a few simple steps.

However, you will waste both the acrylic paint and the leather texture if you don’t know the deal.

So, the following article includes everything regarding can you use acrylic paint on leather. Besides, you will find pro tips on increasing the durability of the colors.

Why Use Acrylic Paint on Leather?

Leather paints are designed to give touch-ups on leather surfaces. But remember that leather paints have the same water-based composition as acrylic paints.

Hence acrylic colors can also be used to paint leather.

Though not formulated for leather, acrylic paints offer major advantages over leather paints. Such as,

Extensive Versatility 

Acrylic paints are indeed the king of versatility. These colors can adapt to almost any surface.

But unfortunately, the acrylics used for regular surfaces don’t work on leather. Considering that, the leather acrylic paints were formulated.

While leather paints only suit plain and faux leather, leather acrylics stick to any material. On top of that, the leather acrylic colors come at a cheaper rate than the leather paints.

Range of Shades

Leather paints are available in a limited color edition. Thus, creating art with different finishing and textures is quite challenging with these paints.

On the contrary, acrylic leather paints come in all shades. Hence, experimenting with colors is not an issue with these paints. 

Vibrant Color Options 

Both acrylic and leather acrylic paints leave a vibrant finish on the leather.

Well, leather paints also have a shiny appearance. But the leather acrylic paints include more pigment counts, offering you brighter color options.


Acrylic leather paints have 3 significant benefits over basic leather paints. For the starter, the former ones are versatile and compatible with almost any surface.
Secondly, you get more shade options with acrylic leather paints. Finally, these colors are brighter and more vibrant than leather paints.

What Is the Best Acrylic Paint on Leather?

The acrylic we use on wood, plastic, glass, and paper won’t adhere to the leather for long.

Acrylic leather paints are the perfect alternatives for both basic acrylic and leather paints. These paints have better longevity, and the colors don’t crack.

The leather acrylics are available in 3 forms, such as liquid, marker pen, and spray. 

Of course, acrylic leather paints differ depending on the use, texture, viscosity, finishing, etc. You should select the one that your art demands.

Go through the brief notes on each leather acrylic type below, 

Liquid Acrylic Leather Paints 

Liquid paints are the most popular to use on leather. The acrylic leather paints are highly consistent and stick perfectly to the surface. 

On top of that, the wide range of colors allows you to pull off any art on the leather. 

Leather Acrylic Marker Pen or Ink 

The acrylic marker pens are excellent for DIY projects or home decor. While the non-artists struggle with the brush and paint palette, this marker is a savior.

You can draw and color as you wish with the felt tip of the acrylic marker. The paints have excellent coverage, controllable flowability, and quick dry time.

Leather Acrylic Spray Paint

Spray painting the leather is definitely an option. You can achieve excellent finishing with acrylic leather spray paint. However, there are limitations in shades with spray colors.


While coloring the leather, you can select a liquid, marker, or spray acrylic paint. Liquid leather acrylics are the most traditional. However, it takes practice to control the flow and brush strokes with these colors.

How to Use Acrylic Paint on Leather

The step-by-step tutorial on how to use acrylic paint on leather is given below,

Step 1: Select the Acrylic 

As mentioned, acrylic paints can’t settle on the leather surface. You either have to use leather paint or acrylic leather paint for the job. 

Even in leather acrylic paints, there are 3 available options. Such as liquid paints, marker pens, and spray paints. 

Go through the properties of each of the types and select the viable one for your art.

Step 2: Collect Supplies 

Before starting the painting on the leather, collect the required supplies for the project. The equipment list may change depending on your preparation process and desired outcome. 

Here are the standard supplies for leather painting with acrylics, 

  1. Leather conditioner (if necessary)
  2. Leather degreaser 
  3. Leather de-glosser Isopropyl alcohol
  4. Acrylic leather paint 
  5. Paintbrush 
  6. Leather 
  7. Acrylic leather paint sealer

Step 3: Prepare the Leather

Leather preparation is a must. Otherwise, the acrylic paints will not stick to the surface properly.

Start by cleaning the surface and removing all the dirt or grease. Then, you need to repair the damaged parts of the leather.

The old and the newly bought leathers have a rough surface. You can’t control your brushstrokes on such a plane. Therefore, use a conditioner to soften the leather texture.

Similarly, polish the leather with a degreaser to remove dirt, wax, or oil. Again, use a de-glosser if you don’t need a glassy surface.

Step 4: Prime the Leather 

The main purpose of priming is to prepare the leather for the upcoming acrylic paint bonding. Moreover, the leather pores fill with priming, making the surface roughly even. Hence, you can layer up the leather smoothly with acrylics.

Commercial primers are available in the market. You can also go for alternative hacks. For example, mix 30% water with the paint and layer the leather as a primer undercoat.

Step 5: Apply the Paint

Once the primer is dried, it’s time to color the leather. Some people prefer designing an outline on the leather first to avoid mistakes.

Apply the paint on the leather with a soft brush. Gentle strokes and thin coats are preferable to avoid cracking. You can mix the medium in the paint before the application if needed.

Go on applying the coating to increase the thickness. Make sure the layers are evenly distributed on the surface. Stroking in the direction of the flex gives a better finishing stroke. 

However, tape off the unrequired surfaces if you want to spray paint the leather.

Give a Proper Finishing 

Allow the acrylic paints to dry on the leather for at least 24 hours. Then use a proper finisher to bring a new appearance to the colors. Commercial finishers are available in both glossy and matte finishing. 

Later, apply a commercial sealant on the acrylics to permanently settle the paints on the leather. Upon drying, you can add another agent to the paints to make them waterproof.

How to Seal Acrylic Paint on Leather

Applying the acrylic paint on the leather isn’t the end of the task. There is a chance that the paint will eventually crack and come off as flakes. So yes, you must seal the acrylic paint for durability. 

Here is how you seal acrylic paint on leather,

Step 1: Surface Preparation

Allow the paint enough time to dry on the leather. Next, use a brush to remove dirt or debris from the leather surface. 

Don’t use water directly on the leather. This is too soon, and the paint will come off. 

Apply warm water, oil, or rubbing alcohol to remove the leather paint if you have messed up the design. 

Step 2: Seal the Paint

Up until now, acrylic paint has been vulnerable and easily removable. To make the paints permanent, do the following steps-

  1. Mix one ounce of commercial sealant with one part of water.
  2. Use a brush to apply the mixture to the paint.
  3. Wait for 5 minutes, and then go for another sealant layer.
  4. Sealants are available in both liquid and spray forms.
  5. Apply 20 coats of sealant mixture on the acrylic paints.
  6. Allow the sealants to cure.

Step 3: Waterproof for Longevity 

Apply a waterproofing agent on the sealant for another layer of protection. Your paints can now be exposed to moisture or damp weather because of water resistance.

However, you can make the acrylic paint waterproof with a brush on liquid or an aerosol spray. Using nail Polish and varnish are two ways to make acrylic paint water-resistant. 

Maintain a minimum of 6 inches of distance between the spray and the paint if you select aerosol. Also, wear a mask for protection.

Acrylic Paint Sealing Alternatives on Leather 

With proper sealants, issues like acrylic paints fading on leather or coming off as flakes can be eliminated. Though a commercial sealing agent is recommended, you can choose low-key alternatives. 

3 common acrylic paint sealant alternatives are,

Hair Spray

Applying the hair spray directly on the acrylics can also seal the paints. But it comes with a major disadvantage. 

Direct spraying on the leather makes the portion dry and rigid. You will have to use a conditioner afterward to soften the surface. 

Mod Podge 

Mod podge serves as a low-cost sealant for acrylics on leather. But it can’t waterproof the paint or make it durable for a long period.

Fabric Medium 

Fabric medium is not exactly a sealing agent. But mixing it in your acrylics in the right proportion will exhibit a similar sealant effect.

So, unlike the traditional sealants, you don’t apply the fabric medium later on the paint. Instead, you mix it when preparing the paint.


Acrylic paint sealant alternatives are not as effective as commercial ones. But they will serve you well for a short period. Mod podge, hair spray, and fabric medium are 3 popular DIY acrylic sealants for leather.

How to Paint Leather Shoes with Acrylics 

Why not spice up the look of your old, dirty leather shoe? Yes, you can customize your shoes at home with only acrylic paints. Well, here is how you do it-

1. Clean the Shoes: Wash the shoes thoroughly with soapy water or isopropyl alcohol. Use another degreaser if required. This step removes dirt, wax, and debris from the shoe surface.

2. Rub the Leather: De-glossing the surface with sandpaper or an agent is necessary. Otherwise, you can’t make the acrylic paint sit on the leather.

3. Prepare the Paint: Mix the appropriate fabric medium in acrylic colors. It increases the efficiency and longevity of the acrylics on leather.

4. Paint the Shoes: Now that your paint is ready, draw the outline on the shoes. Next, apply the colors with thin light strokes on the leather. 

5. Dry the Colors: Wait for 24 hours or more till the colors cure completely. Yes, acrylics have a quick drying time. But it takes longer for even acrylics to settle on the leather.

6. Seal the Acrylics: Finally, use a commercial sealant to make the acrylic art permanent on your shoes. Sealing also imparts water resistance. Hence, you can roam around in the pair almost anywhere. 

Watch this video tutorial on leather shoe painting for a different approach.

How to Paint Faux Leather Using Acrylic Paint 

Faux leather has a different surface texture than traditional one. It is because the leather is treated with silicone and plastic polymer. Therefore, you often struggle to paint this leather accessory with acrylics.

However, if you can prepare the leather surface properly, the painting is not that hard. In fact, the rest of the part is similar to any other acrylic tutorial on leather. 

Look at the below steps for an idea of how to paint faux leather, 

  1. Clean the leather surface with isopropyl alcohol. 
  2. You use another degreaser to remove the wax, oil, and dirt. 
  3. Rub the de-glosser on the leather with a coarse and rough cloth. 
  4. Prepare the acrylic paint by mixing diluents if necessary.
  5. Apply thin coats of acrylic paint on the faux leather. 
  6. Use a soft brush for the painting and apply the strokes in the direction of the flex.
  7. Let the leather dry for 24 – 48 hours.
  8. Give your art a glazing or matte look with a finisher.
  9. Seal the acrylics with a spray or liquid sealant. 
  10. Dry the faux leather before use.

How to Stop Acrylic Cracks on Leather 

There is a high chance of paint cracking even when you use an acrylic leather color. It occurs because of the wrong application of the paint or a simple mistake in the preparation stage. 

No matter what the issue is, the following tips will help you prevent acrylic cracking on leather, 

  1. Apply thin acrylic paint layers on the leather. Coat several times to achieve the desired texture.
  2. Paint in the direction of the leather flex for better adherence. Flex the surface if needed.
  3. Allow the colors to dry completely on the leather before use.
  4. Keep the just-painted leather away from any burning heat source.
  5. Two different paint brands don’t have the same viscosity. Hence, don’t mix brands of the same color.
  6. Applying a finisher and sealing layer is mandatory.

How to Remove Acrylic Paint from Leather 

Acrylic paints dry within minutes. So, if you have painted the wrong stroke, chances are that the color is going to sit on the leather.

But don’t worry. You can get rid of the stains with a few homemade hacks. Such as,

Cooking Oil

Oils are a popular agent for removing acrylic from leather. Wiping the stain with oil-dipped cotton will penetrate the paint, making it lose adherence. Hence, the acrylic colors will come off.

You can use vinegar and baking soda to eliminate the excess oil.

Rubbing Alcohol

Alcohol can remove stubborn stains from any surface. Use the same technique to get rid of the acrylic paint from the leather. 

First, spray the alcohol on the desired parts and wipe the stains with a towel later. Rubbing alcohol tends to dry out the leather. Using a conditioner afterward will restore the softness of the surface.

Warm Soapy Water 

You can use warm soapy water to remove the acrylic paint in two different ways. First, spray the water directly on the leather and leave it for 30 minutes. Later wipe off the stains using a paper towel.

Dipping a soft bristle in the warm water and light strokes on the colors loosen up the paint. Use a cotton or towel later to remove the stain.

Petroleum Jelly 

Apply a handful of petroleum on the stains. After a few minutes, the hard paints will become softer. Use a scraper to remove the paint flakes.

Wipe the soft acrylics with a towel, and you are good to go.


Acrylic paints become waterproof when dried. So, you can’t use a water wash to remove acrylic stains from the leather. 
Instead, you need suitable agents to remove the acrylic paints from the leather. Such as oil, petroleum jelly, warm soap water, and rubbing alcohol.

Frequently Asked Questions 

How do you get acrylic paint to stay on leather?

Prepare both the leather and the acrylic paint beforehand to increase durability. Next, direct your stroke in the direction of the flex. Finally, upon drying, seal the acrylic on the leather with a sealant.

Does acrylic paint stain leather?

Leather isn’t as absorbent as paper or fabrics. Hence, basic acrylic paints can’t stain the leather. But applying leather-formulated acrylic paints will definitely leave a permanent mark on the leather.

Can you paint directly on leather?

You can paint directly on leather as long as they are compatible. Generally, leather paint and acrylic leather paints are formulated for the leather surface.

Will acrylic paint crack on leather?

Basic acrylics and a thick coat tend to crack on leather surfaces. However, switching to acrylic leather paint and applying thin coats can eliminate this issue. 


So, can you use acrylic paint on leather? You can’t use the basic acrylics we apply on wood, plastic, paper, or ceramic. But you’ve to switch to acrylic leather paints for this purpose. 

Before getting into the painting, prepare the leather for the job. Such as cleaning the surface and deglazing it. Later, design an outline, fill the spaces or paint directly on the leather. 

Finally, dry the painted leather and seal it with a commercial agent. The sealants make the acrylic water-resistant, preserve brightness, and prevent cracking.

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